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In April 2017, Kayela brought her son Kadyn to the emergency department for a mass in his mouth. The team did a biopsy, and determined the mass was malignant.

Kadyn was admitted and seen by the late Ayman El-Sheikh, MD. Kadyn was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that affects the skeletal muscle tissue.

After a couple of years of treatment and discussion about the best and safest way to treat Kadyn’s tumor, they decided on surgery. Dr. El-Sheikh referred the family to Dayton Children’s neurosurgery department.  “We’d already been through a lot with Dr. El-Sheikh, and trusted him to give us the best option to treat Kadyn. So, we met with the neurosurgery team.”

In their meeting, they learned how the team would remove the 5-centimeter tumor. The surgery would be risky, with a chance of stroke or losing movement to the right side of his face. Despite the risks, surgery remained the best option. The surgery lasted four hours, but they got almost all of the tumor. After, Kadyn continued to be monitored by Dr. El-Sheikh.

In February 2021, Dr. El-Sheikh passed away from complications of COVID-19. Kayela was devastated.

“To me, he was everything. He was so supportive; we could call him at any time and knew he would be there to answer. He said he even set extra time aside for our appointments because he knew that I would have a lot of questions. He really gained my trust that way – and became like family,” Kayela said.

After learning she was pregnant with twin boys in late 2020, then spending the months after Dr. El-Sheikh's passing thinking about ways to honor him, Kayela had her answer. On April 20, 2021, Kamdyn Ayman and Kamian were born, forever honoring the physician that helped care for Kadyn.

Today, Kadyn is doing well. He loves playing video games, cars and being outside. The boys like playing together too; usually that means Kamdyn Ayman and Kamian climbing on Kadyn. Because of his type of cancer, Kadyn will always have it and is still seen by the oncology team at Dayton Children’s. “We still love our care team now, but there will never be another Dr. El-Sheikh. He was just always there for us; truly one of a kind.”